Who would buy Motorola's handset division?


Woe is Motorola. Last Thursday it announced that it might (or might not) try to sell off its mobile handset division and then had to check how many bars it had because it seemed like nobody heard a thing.

According to BusinessWeek, “Of the top five cell-phone makers, all but Motorola posted growth in revenue and sales last year.” Motorola is currently third worldwide, behind Nokia and Samsung, and ahead of Sony Ericsson and LG.

Some could argue that either Sony Ericsson or LG might be wise to scoop up Motorola in order to increase their position, but neither company seems too thrilled about the idea.

“We are not interested in buying Motorola’s handset business,” says spokesperson Joh Joong Kwon at South Korea’s LG Electronics. “We believe it is better for us to focus on our resources to grow on our own.”

Ericsson CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg cautioned against such a deal. “We would take a very cautious view on such a thing because we do believe you are better off doing it on your own,” Svanberg told analysts, according to a Reuters (RTRSY) report.

So the strategy seems to be to go it alone. That, and Motorola’s presence in the US comes with obstacles like carrier exclusivity agreements that don’t exist abroad and “a history of Asian companies failing to retain top engineers and marketers in their U.S. operations” make a purchase by one of the big players seem less and less likely.

BusinessWeek points out that companies like Lenovo and “smaller Chinese hardware makers” are more likely to consider such a purchase. Lenovo, however, just dropped out of the cell phone game and “all Chinese handset makers are struggling badly, even in their home market, and most are bleeding red ink.”

Asian Companies Wary Of Motorola [BusinessWeek]